1591Re: TR on God and Religion
- Feb 7, 2007
> The Seven Worlds of Theodore Roosevelt by Edward Wagenknecht has aIs anyone familiar with Christian F. Reisner and his book,
> complete chapter on his spiritual values and I found that chapter,
> and the book itself, placed his life into a bit better perspective
> for me.
Roosevelt's Religion? The dedication reads, "To young men in the
hope that they may be as wise as was Mr. Roosevelt in appreciating
and appropriating concrete Christianity". Here are several excerpts
from Mr. Reisner's introduction entitled, "An Explanation":
"A recently published bibliography containing a list of over five
hundred books and pamphlets about and by Theodore Roosevelt contains
not a single article, pamphlet, or book about Mr. Roosevelt's
religion. Religion was the heart of his life, the creator of his
ideals, the sustainer of his courage, the feeder of his faith, and
the fountain of his wisdom. Without religion the greatness of Mr.
Roosevelt is inexplicable. He was a typical and outstanding American
because he did have a vital religious faith and a daily practice
consistent with it....
"All history will show that pure religion builds the greatest
leaders of earth. To find a truly great man is to find a man with
faith in the Father-God and one who has consciously or unconsciously
followed the program of Jesus....
"Theodore Roosevelt stands out as the towering, unquestioned
illustration of the size and kind of men pure religion builds. He
was strongly human and yet devout, admittedly imperfect and yet
sincerely seeking the truth, notably self-confident and yet avowedly
a worshipful disciple of the humble Teacher of Galilee. He went away
from earth carrying the diploma of a completed life course, and
hence is a beckoning example to all who would think widely, contest
successfully, serve steadily, live happily, and cross the river at
the end triumphantly.
"The words of many witnesses following various vocations have been
freely and frequently quoted because the important subject of
religion dare not be left either to an author's declarations or even
to his interpretation of quotations. The evidence presented will be
recognized as conclusive....
"While Mr. Roosevelt had a profound and workable creed, he seldom
talked about or detailed it. Yet he lived a very definite one.
Theories interested him very little; he demanded practice. He agreed
with James: "I will show you my faith by my works." Nevertheless, he
emphasized the necessity of faith and worship. New York's children,
uninstructed, might decide that trees are not necessary to furnish
fruit; there is such an abundance in the stores. One is prone to
conclude after reading the many high-sounding phrases divorced from
any mention of God, about "right," "honesty," "service," "the Golden
Rule," and "morality," that these grew in the air or were self-
existent entities .Every ideal with power in it or moral word which
possesses red blood, grew on the tree called religion. Where there
is no religion, or God, or church, there is no moral practice,
progress, or security. Mr. Roosevelt said, "A churchless community
is a community on the rapid downgrade." Again he said, "Every
sensible man believes in and practices religion.
"To take God out of consideration when viewing Mr. Roosevelt's life
is to mislead the people and lessen the permanency of his influence.
Without a religious training similar to that which he and his
associates received and followed, there will be no leaders of
caliber and strength to succeed the present-day leaders; teachers
and parents must realize that or fail at their task. The child
without a religious training is unfitted to meet life's problems
"Religion does not consist alone of prayer, Bible reading, and
church attendance. While necessary for ripest development, they are
but sunshine, rain, and soil which feed the roots of faith and
enable the character to bear fruit in words and deeds of
righteousness. Neither does any religion require humans who profess
it to be without flaw or periods of failure. The orchard is not dug
up because it bears some scrubby fruit, or even if it fails to
produce for one whole season. Americanism is often cheapened by
hypocrites; none of us reach our highest ideals as citizens, and yet
we do not refrain from professing to be an "American" on this
account. It is unfair to demand that those who announce themselves
as pupils in the school of Christ, by professing to be Christians,
should be flawless.
"This book will review all phases of Mr. Roosevelt's life but with
the single purpose of exhibiting his religious traits. His ordinary
faults will be taken for granted. No one will conclude, therefore,
that he had no temptations or failures or lapses from a perfect
Christian standard because they are not presented.
"His religion is traced back to his childhood, followed in his own
home, discovered in his ideals, teachings, and activities, and
confidently identified in his church affiliations and advocacies.
The material has been gathered from biographies and articles, the
writings and addresses of Mr. Roosevelt and from interviews with
such high authorities as...."
The book was first published in 1922 by Abingdon Press and seems to
be relatively comprehensive in considering the various aspects of
Roosevelt's adherence to Christianity. The following is taken from
the Contents page:
President Harding's Testimony
Leonard Wood's Testimony
I. Theodore's Childhood Home
II. His Own an Ideal Home
III. A Helpful Father Himself
IV. Providentially Prepared For His Career
V. The Essential of Success
VI. A Humble Self-Confidence
VII. A Courteous Christian Friend
VIII. The Brother of His People
IX. Public Duties Fearlessly Performed
X. Preached and Practiced High Ideals
XI. Was He A Christian? Others' Testimony
XII. Was He A Christian? His Own Testimony
XIII. A Pure and Reverent Mind
XIV. Drinking and Prohibition
XV. His Opinion of The Bible
XVI. Did He Join the Church?
XVII. Church Attendance and Work
Books Used As References
If you're interested in learning more about Roosevelt's Christian
faith and practice, I believe this book would be worth reading, if
you can find it.
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